[Cu-wireless] wireless for your desktop pc

David Young dyoung at onthejob.net
Sun Nov 18 21:53:21 CST 2001

In this e-mail I share my research on equipment suitable for attaching
a desktop computer to an external antenna for 802.11b. First, I look
at ISA/PCI <-> PC Card/CardBus adapters that will accept any old
wireless card.  I focus on adapters from PCI bus to CardBus because
all those adapters seem to be backwards-compatible w/ 16-bit PC Cards,
and because they will support the emerging CardBus-only 50Mb/s wireless
adapters. But there are also some ISA/PCMCIA adapters in the mix.

Here is the executive summary:

For adapting PC Cards to ISA/PCI bus, the very best deals appear to be
ZyXEL's CardBus<->PCI adapter, and Amtron's 16-bit PC Card<->PCI adapter.

If you do not already have a wireless PC Card that you want to plug
into your desktop, you might consider ZoomAir's wireless PCI adapter,
or D-Link's. Both will accept external antennas. D-Link's is cheapest
at just $100.

ISA/PCI <-> PC Card/CardBus adapters:

	Some products in this category only adapt storage-type PC Card
	adapters. Beware IDE adapters. These are probably only suitable for
	disks and flash storage in the PC Card form factor.

    There are adapters from PC Card/CardBus to ISA/PCI that are loaded
    from a drivebay. Here are some URLs for advertisers of drive-bay
    adapters and more.



	  Synchrotech sells all sorts of adapters for PC Card/CardBus. Some
	  plug into a drive bay (you pay a premium for these). Others adapt to
	  USB, PC104, or IEEE 1394 buses. They give lots of detail on their
	  products. They even mention Linux and Solaris support for some of
	  their products.

	  PCI Bus to PC Card and CardBus Read-Writer Internal Rear

		  1 Slot $90.00 (these two prices may or may not reflect the $20
						 discount that expires 30 November)
		  2 Slot $169.00

	  ISA Bus to PC Card Read-Writer Internal Rear

		  2 Slot $81.00


		For $99, sells a two-slot, rear-mount (that is, loads on the back
		of your computer) PCI to CardBus/16-bit PC Card adapter. There are
		other adapters here, too.

		For $99, sells a two-slot, front-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for PCI.

		For $59, sells a one-slot, rear-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for PCI.


		For $99, two-slot, rear-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for ISA bus.

		For $119, two-slot, rear-mount PC Card & CardBus reader for PCI bus.


		For just $69.90, the ZyAIR adapts 16-bit PC Cards and CardBus cards
		to PCI bus.

		WirelessModemOnline is the only U.S. reseller for this product I find.


		For CompactPCI systems (this is for embedded systems), sells a CardBus

More on desktop adapters:

	I read somewhere that D-Link's PCMCIA<->PCI adapter will adapt any PCMCIA
	card. Maybe that explains why I only see the card bundled with a LinkSys
	wireless PC Card....

    The LinkSys PCI adapter only accepts wireless cards; possibly it
    only accepts Intersil (Prism II) cards; worse, it may accept only
    LinkSys-brand PC Cards. Note that no LinkSys PC Card is built to
    accept an external antenna.

Here are PCI-only solutions:

    D-Link Air (DWL-520) Wireless PCI Adapter. This does not adapt a
    PC Card to the PCI bus, it is an actual PCI-bus wireless solution
    with DETACHABLE ANTENNA.  The antenna attaches using a 'reverse SMA
    connector', which is pretty standard. I cannot find any reseller,
    but D-Link sells the card for just $100. This could be the very most
    affordable way to attach an external antenna to a desktop PC.

	There is a Proxim Harmony PCI 802.11b card. The least price I've found
	so far is $176 at http://www.sansfilsys.com/products.htm . It also has
	a reverse SMA connector.

	Zoom bundles a ZoomAir card with external antenna connector (reverse SMA,
	I think) and ISA or PCI adapter. These can be had for $150-$160.

    The LinkSys WMP11 is cheap ($100). It has a removable diversity
    antenna, but it is my I guess that it will not accept other antennas

Finally, a word about USB.  There are a variety of USB 802.11b adapters. I
have not researched these, but I imagine that some of them will accept
an external connector. Maybe someone will research these for us.


David Young                   On the Job Consulting
dyoung at onthejob.net     Urbana, IL * (217) 278-3933

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